The School of Marketing is calling on marketers to “step outside their comfort zones” to tackle the pandemic-fuelled youth unemployment crisis as the country enters a new phase of Covid restrictions.
In the capital alone, youth unemployment has surged by 55% since the onset of Covid-19, according to data from The Independent and Evening Standard, with more than 21% of young people in London jobless and seeking work. This figure is five times the national average, with one in four women in London aged 16-24 currently unemployed, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Nationwide 42% of unemployed young people have been out of work for six months or more.
Now skills-based marketing education organisation the School of Marketing is urging marketers to look beyond their personal networks to see what they can do to open up opportunities for young people. Reflecting on the statistics, founder Ritchie Mehta believes the marketing industry can play an important role in reversing this trend in London and beyond.
“London represents the economic hub of the UK and the very nucleus of our marketing and creative industry. It is also a city of divide, where many just do not get the opportunity they deserve due to age, gender, race or disability,” he notes.
“The stats are really startling, particularly for young people where one in five are unemployed – five times higher than the national average. Women and diverse groups are being hit the hardest. It’s for us in the marketing and creative industries to represent the diverse communities in which we live and love, which all starts with collective action.”
It’s about taking personal accountability to say: ‘What are we going to do differently?
Ritchie Mehta, School of Marketing
A key call to action Mehta identifies is for marketers to consider taking up the government’s Kickstart scheme, which offers 16- to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit a placement for six months, while the business receives £1,500 from the state.
Despite failing to hit its target of reaching 250,000 Kickstart placements, the government sees the scheme as playing an important role in its £2bn “skills revolution”, of which £170m is earmarked for apprenticeships and training.
Another action point is for brands to consider taking on marketing apprentices, working with partners to source diverse talent. In 2021, some businesses ramped up their commitment to apprenticeships, such as Procter & Gamble. In September P&G welcomed its first cohort of four degree apprentices into the UK commercial function.
Two of the apprentices started in marketing, before they move on to sales, finance and product supply, rotating every nine months over a three-year period to experience the different commercial functions. The structure means each of the four apprentices will have at least one marketing assignment to work on.
In a wider sense, the School of Marketing sees itself as a catalyst to bring the industry together, which Mehta explains starts at the organisation’s own doorstep. Marketers are, therefore, being urged to point young people towards free services like the School of Marketing’s Mentoring Gen Z initiative.
Mentoring Gen Z has already reached 1,000 young people hoping to kickstart their careers in marketing, offering free group mentoring with marketing leaders such as Facebook vice-president for Northern Europe Steve Hatch, Boots CMO Pete Markey and Nando’s chief customer officer Sarah Warby.
The target is to reach 5,000 mentees by summer 2022, with marketing mentors already signed up until June next year.
The School of Marketing is also offering young people access to free digital skills training to help them gain knowledge in the latest tools and techniques, spanning SEO, PPC, social media marketing, influencer marketing and digital marketing strategy.
Whatever the approach they choose to take, Mehta is urging marketers to reach outside their networks and see the bigger picture of how they could help tackle the youth unemployment crisis.
“It’s about taking personal accountability to say: ‘What are we going to do differently?’. If it is simply just investigating how your company is going to take on a Kickstarter and make that happen, brilliant,” he adds.
“Even if you give one more person an opportunity. Even if it’s offering a one or two-month internship. Something as simple as that could make a big difference.”